EDUCATION IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE 79 took a new direction. To arrest the decrease of population in Italy, they lent large sums of money to the farmers, and arranged that the interest paid by them should go to finance a scheme by which yearly allowances (aKmenta), to the number of five thousand, would be provided for boys and girls up to the com- pletion of their education at eighteen and fourteen respectively. This endowment was maintained and extended in subsequent reigns. For the most part, the rulers in this period seem to have taken little interest in the educational concerns of the Roman world outside Italy. The chief exception was made in favour of Alexandria, which, under the patronage of Augustus and his immediate successors, who sought to emulate the achievements of Alexander and the first Ptolemys, became for a time the chief seat of learning in the Empire. Once again scholarship flourished in the Museum and in other schools outside of it. Many of the Alexandrians migrated to Rome to act as teachers, but even then a great many scholars were left to carry on the traditional studies of the school: among them, " grammarians who combined the study of rhetoric with that of philology and criticism, historians who were also geographers and polymaths, philosophers of whom some taught oratory, others ethics, politics and religion, mathematicians who studied astronomy and mech- anics as well as arithmetic and geometry, and finally physicians who combined natural history and botany with anatomy."* But Alexandria in her renaissance had changed her character to a considerable extent. In accordance with the demands of the age, rhetoric and philosophy, which had previously been of minor consequence, became the chief subjects of study, and with the coming of large numbers of students from over the seas she developed into a great centre of instruction, more like Athens (which was now in temporary eclipse) than the earlier Alexandria. The ground was already being prepared for the coming struggle between paganism and Christianity, In interesting contrast with the encouragement of Greek learning in Alexandria was the establishment of Latin schools in the north of Africa and in Gaul (probably the creation of Julius Caesar), which continued to flourish and to produce worthy scholars for many centuries. * M. Matter, Histoire de VScole d*Alexandria, i, 371.